Node 7, offered in beta in late September, is a "checkpoint release for the Node.js project and will focus on stability, incremental improvement over Node.js v6, and updating to the latest versions of V8, libuv, and ICU (International Components for Unicode)," said Mikeal Rogers, Foundation community manager.
But version 7 will have a short shelf life. "Given it is an odd-numbered release, it will only be available for eight months, with its end of life slated for June 2017," Rogers said. "Beyond v7, we'll be focusing our efforts on language compatibility, adopting modern Web standards, growth internally for VM neutrality, and API development and support for growing Node.js use cases."
The release of a new version means status changes for older versions. Most important, users on the 0.10 line need to transition off of this release at once, since it will no longer be supported after this month, the Foundation said. There will be no further releases, including security or stability patches.The 0.12 release, meanwhile, goes to End of Life status in December.
"After Dec. 31, we won't be able to get OpenSSL updates for those versions," Rogers said. "So that means we won't be able to provide any security updates. Additionally, the Node.js Core team has been maintaining the version of V8 included in Node.js v0.10 alone since the Chromium team retired it four years ago. This represents a risk for users, as the team will no longer maintain this."
Version 6 becomes an Long Term Support (LTS) release today. "In a nutshell, the LTS strategy is focused on creating stability and security to organizations with complex environments that find it cumbersome to continually upgrade Node.js," Rogers said. "These release lines are even-numbered and are supported for 30 months."
Node v6 is the stable release until April 2018, meaning that new features only land in it with the consent of the Node project's core technical committee. Otherwise, changes are limited to bug fixes, security updates, documentation updates, and improvements where the risk of breaking existing applications is minimal. After April 2018, v6 transitions to maintenance mode for 12 months, with only critical bugs and security fixes offered, as well as documentation updates.
"At the current rate of download, Node.js v6 will take over the current LTS line v4 in downloads by the end of the year," Rogers said. "Node.js v4 will stop being maintained in April 2018."